June 3, 2023

Heading into the 2022-23 season, many believed that the Boston Bruins would struggle to make the postseason because they started the year without notable players like Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy. Yet, that couldn’t be any further from the truth today, as they currently sport a ridiculous 37-5-4 record and have the most points in the NHL by a comfortable margin. As a result, they are expected to be buyers and have been linked to several big-name players because of it.

The St. Louis Blues, on the other hand, have taken a notable step in the wrong direction this campaign. At the time of this writing, they have a 23-21-3 record and do not possess a playoff spot because of it. If they are unable to turn things around by March 3, they will surely be sellers at the trade deadline. Although it would be great to see the Bruins acquire a star like Ryan O’Reilly or Vladimir Tarasenko, I’d argue that they should aim to bring back an underrated old friend from St. Louis instead. Let’s dive into why now.

Noel Acciari Becoming Rental Candidate for Blues

With the Blues expected to be sellers at the deadline, there’s no question that Noel Acciari is becoming a prime rental candidate. The 31-year-old forward is a pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) who carries an affordable $1.25 million cap hit, so there surely will be teams making a push for him at the deadline. After all, playoff teams are always aiming to add to their depth, and the Rhode Island native would provide them with just that.

Noel Acciari St. Louis Blues
Noel Acciari, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Although Acciari is not as big of a name as other Blues rental candidates like O’Reilly, Tarasenko, and Ivan Barbashev, he is still a very effective NHL player. The eight-year veteran is quietly having a pretty good season for the Blues, too, as he has 10 goals to go along with 18 points in 47 games. Along with his quality secondary scoring, he also has made a major impact with his immense physicality, as he has recorded a whopping 144 hits on the year.

With the Bruins having a past connection with Acciari, I certainly could see them bringing him back and so does fellow THW writer Scott Roche. With that, he would also fill a need that they currently have, so there could be a real match here on paper.

Why the Bruins Should Bring Back Acciari

Although Acciari may not be the star player that many Bruins fans are hoping for, he has shown this season that he can be a quality point producer while playing in a bottom-six role. This is an area where I believe that the Bruins could use a bit of a boost. Players such as Craig Smith and A.J. Greer have had trouble remaining consistent when utilized on the fourth line, but when seeing how Acciari is playing this year, it’s fair to say that he would be an upgrade over both of them.

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During his days in Boston, Acciari primarily played center, but he has shown that he can also work well at right wing. As a result, a fourth line of Nick Foligno, Tomas Nosek, and Acciari certainly looks like a good one on paper. With that, Acciari’s strong defensive play would allow him to kill penalties for the Bruins again if they decide to bring him back.

Injuries seem to occur more often as the year progresses, so it would be wise for the Bruins to bring in a bottom-six forward like Acciari at the deadline. He would provide them with another quality option, and it also does not hurt in the slightest that he is somebody who the Bruins already know very well. Furthermore, it would be intriguing to see if his play would respond positively to head coach Jim Montgomery’s system.

Potential Trade Between Boston & St. Louis

Acciari is not a star player, so it is unlikely that the Bruins would need to part ways with too much to acquire him. I could see their 2024 fourth-round pick and a prospect being enough to make this move go through. One specific player who I could see the Blues expressing interest in is left-shot defenseman Jack Ahcan.

Jack Ahcan Boston Bruins
Jack Ahcan, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Bruins have several left-shot NHL-caliber defensemen, so it has been hard for Ahcan to successfully earn himself a spot on Boston’s roster. However, that does not mean that he hasn’t been effective in the American Hockey League (AHL), as he has two goals and 21 points in 37 games for the Providence Bruins this campaign. With the Blues’ left side needing a boost, it doesn’t seem too out of the question that they would be willing to take a chance on an offensive defenseman like Ahcan.

Nevertheless, the Bruins should certainly consider the prospect of acquiring Acciari before their postseason run. His offensive game has improved rather noticeably since he left Boston, and he’s been a player who they have missed since his departure. It wouldn’t hurt the Bruins to add more scoring and grit to their fourth line, so we will need to wait and see if a reunion with Acciari occurs from here because of it.

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